The Obama administration is launching a three-phase campaign against ISIS that is expected to last 36 months or more.
The New York Times reports the campaign will consist of airstrikes, followed by training of the Iraqi military, Kurdish fighters, “and possibly members of Sunni tribes.” The last phase will be “destroying… [ISIS] in its sanctuary inside Syria.”
The first phase of the campaign is underway, “with nearly 145 airstrikes in the last month.” But the second phase will not take place “until Iraq forms a more inclusive government.” The make-up of the Iraqi government has been a sticking point for the Obama administration for some time.
Last month, Outside The Beltway reported that Obama wanted to see “a more inclusive government” in Iraq–a post-Maliki government that could “unify… Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.” The second phase of Obama’s plan against ISIS can take place once such a government exists.
It will be followed by “destroying” ISIS strongholds in Syria.
During the September 7 airing of Meet the Press, Obama said he expects the new Iraqi government to be in place “next week.” This is the government he’s been waiting for. He said he will meet with Congressional leaders on September 9 and will make a speech to the U.S. on September 10.
He made sure to reiterate that his plan does not involve boots on the ground:
This is not the equivalent of the Iraq War. What this is, is similar to the kinds of counterterrorism campaigns that we’ve been engaging in consistently over the last five, six, seven years. And the good news is that because of American leadership, we have, I believe, a broad-based coalition internationally and regionally to be able to deal with the problem.
He then echoed statements reminiscent of Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), who said ISIS “is a very serious threat” but “[not] an immediate threat to the homeland.”
Obama said ISIS “is a serious threat” but “we have not seen any immediate intelligence about threats to the homeland from [ISIS].”
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